We may have had an unseasonably warm winter and early spring, but you may want to check to see if Hell has frozen over. Because President Barack Obama and front-running Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney actually agreed on something Thursday.
Both men — who will likely face each other in the fall election — believe that the male-only Augusta National Golf Club should admit women as members.
Just about the time the Masters was getting under way at the exclusive retreat in Augusta, White House press secretary Jay Carney was telling reporters that Obama’s “personal opinion is that women should be admitted” to the old-boys club. Obama believes it was “up to the club to decide” who gets in and who doesn’t, but that POTUS was in favor or rolling out the welcome mat for women.
“We’re kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything,” Carney said, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the controversy became something of a campaign issue — and then the butt of Twitter jokes — when, later on Thursday, Romney said he, too, would admit women to the inner sanctum of Augusta.
“Of course. I am not a member of Augusta. I don’t know if I would qualify. My golf game is not that good,” the former Massachusetts governor, who’s attacked Obama for his frequent trips to the links, said during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. “If I could run Augusta, which isn’t likely to happen, of course I’d have women.”
Still later in the day, another Republican presidential wannabe weighed in on the debate, which gained renewed momentum this year after long-time Masters sponsor IBM named a woman, Virginia Rometty, as its president and chief executive in January. Newt Gingrich tweeted that his wife, Callista “would be a great member #Augusta -maybe she would let me come and play.”
@CallyGingrich, reportedly a far better golfer than her husband, tweeted back that it would be her honor to join the home of the Masters. “I’m a golfer and I would love to belong to #Augusta.”
Despite his club becoming a laughingstock to the world at large, it’s unlikely that Augusta National chair Billy Payne saw much humor in the situation. Nor is he likely to offer membership any time soon to Rometty, Cally, or any other woman. During his annual pre-tourney press conference on Wednesday, Payne repeatedly stonewalled reporters who urged him to discuss the issue, saying that what happens behind closed doors in Augusta stays behind those closed doors.
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminerWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?